Kymberly C. Brumlik


In the late nineteenth century, the understanding of ‘maladies of the mind’ was in the early stages of development. Those studying such disorders were striving to legitimize mental health as a field of medicine. As a result the British began to establish ‘Native-Only’ lunatic asylums throughout South Asia, particularly in the Bengal Presidency of their Colonial Empire. The purpose of these asylums appeared to have been to alleviate society from those inflicted with mental disease. Upon examination of reports pertaining to asylums supervised by the British, it became evident that these facilities were no more than forced labor houses producing goods for the British Empire. In reality, the asylums had little to do with the rehabilitation of mentally ill patients. By researching the yearly reports from the asylums, which were veiled in Victorian morality, it became apparent that the reports of medical treatment had evolved into profit margin data. The majority of the patients walking the halls were usually the traditional vagrants of India, those who were unaccounted for and remained uncontrolled. This paper examines the previously unexplored consequences of British colonial rule in regards to public health, specifically mental health.


Lunacy, Mental Illness, Bengal, British Colonial, Asylum, Profits, Insanity, East India Company

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Journal of South Asian Studies
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